I was listening to the AVFTB episode from January 15th ("Game For All") and I was blown away by two things to do with the league-wide Pride Weekend.
I'll admit I was listening to the episode at 4:00 am while at working getting ready for my morning news run so I can't remember all of what was said, but I was very impressed by the interview with the EIHL's head of media, Luke Fisher. The part that really sticks out is that they didn't even vote on whether or not to hold the pride weekend because everyone was already on board. I love that. I know this won't last forever, especially after I say this, but everything I've learned/ discovered about the league so far I absolutely love.
After the interview played, the lads had a chat about the Giants' pride game on Saturday vs the Clan. (FTC). I hope I used that right. Again, I don't remember all of the exact words that were said but just the overall conversation about how education is basically one of the best (if not the best) way to make sure that in the land of Giants (and the hockey community as a whole) everyone is equal.
Now it's time for me to get up on a soapbox for a bit. If you don't want to listen to me, then I guess you shouldn't be reading my blog.
Pride weekends or 'You Can Play' nights or whatever you want to call them are 100% needed in hockey. Some people say that politics/beliefs and hockey/sport shouldn't mix. I'm here to tell you that they're wrong. If everyone is truly to be equal, then everyone needs to feel equal. Sport is something, as everyone who is reading this or knows a thing or two about the Belfast Giants knows, brings together everyone no matter what. Athletes have a giant audience and outside of some people in the US recently people tune in / attend games regardless of what they think of individual players' opinions. If the thousands in attendance and those watching / following along elsewhere see that pride nights are important, then that's the message that they'll take home with them. If they don't get it, then they'll Google why the players are wearing rainbow jerseys. It gets the conversation started.
The other reason I think these events are so important is because as much as hockey culture has come a LONG way from where it was even five years ago, there is still a lot more that needs to happen. I spend a fair amount of time around young hockey players (18 and younger) and I still hear a slurs every now and then centred around sexual orientation. The players are good kids, and they're not intentionally trying to be homophobic or offensive, but its ingrained into the culture so much that it's just second nature and it's what they heard from a coach or older player in the past so it's what they do now. That has to stop. It's not good enough to just say "Oh it'll be better in the future" because if WE don't do something about it NOW then it won't be. Culture shifts happen when action is taken, not when we say it'll fix itself and hope for the best.
I'll step down off my soapbox now. This is just...something close to my heart. Maybe I'll get more into that at a later point.
Wrapping things up very simply - Pride Weekend = a good thing for everyone and everything. If you don't agree, you're entitled to your opinion but you're wrong. I'm sorry if I'm ruffling any feathers or makes you not want to read my blog anymore but c'est la vie.
OH. And a HUGE thank-you to Matt Harvey (@Matt_Harvey95 on Twitter) for letting me use his Giants' Baby Yoda picture! Check out his other stuff and give him a follow on the old Twitter machine! (https://twitter.com/Matt_Harvey95)